Take 30 seconds to look around the room you’re in right now. How many objects do you see that are made of plastic? From our computers, writing utensils, toothbrushes, shampoo bottles, and food containers, plastic is nearly impossible to avoid. Plastic production has increased dramatically since the 1950’s, and production is expected to double in the next 20 years (World Economic Forum, 2016). The number of metric tons of plastic we’ve created in the last six decades is an incomprehensible number – 8.3 billion metric tons. Most of this plastic is used in disposable items that end up as trash.
What happens to plastic once we dispose of it? Plastics take about 400 years to degrade, so all of that plastic we’ve already produced is here to stay. We’ve been told for decades that recycling is the answer to our unfathomable plastic waste problem. So long as you, the consumer, sort and clean your recyclables, you can feel at ease that your plastic waste will be reused to produce new bottles and containers, clothing, and even carpets…right? Of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic waste that has been created, what percentage would you guess has been recycled?
Less than 10% of all plastics ever have been recycled. The main problem is that the process to recycle plastic is expensive – picking it up, sorting it, and melting it all costs money. In addition, plastic degrades with every use, so most plastics can’t be reused more than once or twice. The bottom line is that it’s almost always less expensive to buy new, better quality plastic for production.
What can YOU do?
This problem cannot be resolved only by changing behaviors on a consumer level. But while we advocate for changes and regulations at the federal level, here are a few companies that help reduce our plastic use by providing goods that we need in a format that’s less wasteful.
Do you know of other companies that should be on this list? Have other ideas to share about how to reduce our plastic consumption? Contact Jess to share!
Blueland | www.blueland.com
Blueland offers a variety of household products including hand soap, dish soap, laundry detergent, window cleaner, and multi-surface spray. Each product comes with one lifetime bottle that can be refilled using their soap and cleaner tablets. Simply fill your lifetime bottle with water and drop in the tablet. Order more cleaner tablets as needed. Never throw away a household cleaner bottle again!
From their website: “Starting with cleaning products – items traditionally sold in disposable plastic bottles, we can eliminate over 100 billion single-use plastic bottles in the US alone because our cleaners live in reusable bottles. Next? We’re innovation-driven and on a mission to reimagine all categories of household packaged goods with innovative form factors and environmentally responsible packaging.”
Personal care & beauty products:
Acala | www.acalaonline.com
Acala’s products range from shampoo bars or dissolvable cubes, moisturizers packaged in glass jars, toothpaste tablets and bamboo toothbrushes, and responsibly packaged deodorant and makeup. These products are all natural, responsibly sourced, and come in zero-waste packaging.
From their website: “Acala is an online store offering an extensive range of natural, organic and vegan health and beauty products from leading brands. All responsibly packaged; refills, plastic free and zero waste packaging…We are committed to environmental and social responsibility in all aspects of our operations. Our current carbon footprint output per year stands at 14 tonnes of CO2. We have proudly teamed up with Offset Earth as part of our ongoing commitment to become a carbon positive company. With this partnership we’ll be supporting important CO2 reduction projects across the globe. 110 trees have been planted so far, and we’ll be planting at least 80 more trees each month.”
Plastic-free kitchen essentials:
Life Without Plastic | lifewithoutplastic.com
Life Without Waste products include plastic-free straws, food storage containers, lunch bags, cutlery, and reusable plastic-free food wraps. They also offer a variety of resources and tips for living a plastic-free life.
From their website: “ Part of our quest here at Life Without Plastic is to be a one-stop shop for safe, high quality, ethically-sourced and Earth-friendly alternatives to everyday plastic products…Healthier for the Earth, healthier for us all. We are committed to raising awareness about plastic issues by providing solid science-based and experience-based information, and by showing the world, one person at a time, the beauty and significance of a life without plastic.”